woensdag 17 juni 2015

William Gavin -- 18 juni 1815

William Gavin (1775-1835) was een Engelse militair van Ierse afkomst. Zijn campagnedagboeken zijn bewaard gebleven, met daarin ook het verslag van 'zijn' Slag bij Waterloo.

June 18th 1815
The sun rose beautifully. The artillery of both armies had commenced the work of death. The men were ordered to dry their clothes and accoutrements and put their firelocks in order, and the writer was sent with a party to a farm house, to seize on all the cattle that could be found about it. This was soon performed. Cows, bullocks, pigs, sheep and fowls were put into requisition and brought to camp. Butchers set to work, fires made by pulling down houses for the wood, camp kettles hung on, and everything in a fair way for cooking, when the word ‘fall in' put everything to the route. Men accoutring, cannon roaring, bugles sounding and drums beating, which put a stop, to our cooking for that day. Our Brigade were ordered to advance to the brow of a hill and lie down in column. A brigade of the enemy's artillery got our range and annoyed us very much. One shot made an avenue from the first company to the tenth, which killed and wounded sixty men. During this period, not being attached to any company, I rode down the line to the left, to where Sir Thomas Picton was stationed, and came up just as he received his mortal wound. About two o'clock a squadron of the enemy's cavalry charged down on us, when the General ordered us to form square, which was instantly performed, and soon repulsed them. We were several times attacked in our advance by the enemy's cavalry. At one time we had only the front of the square formed when a squadron charged us, but we soon had it complete, with Lord Wellington in the centre. In the confusion my hat fell off, and on recovering it put it on front part to the back, and wore it like this for the remainder of the day, not knowing it was so. In this charge Ensign Todd was killed, also Lieutenant Elwes mortally wounded. Lieutenant Lawe, who acted as adjutant to the left wing, and was mounted, was hit by a cannon ball, which passed through the calf of his right leg, through the horse's body, and wounded his left leg. The enemy began to retreat about seven in the evening. We followed them to Nivelles and took a great number of cannon. The road was actually blocked up with cannon and wagons deserted by the French.

We bivouacked this night outside the village, up to our knees in mud.

Our loss during the day was:- 3 officers killed, 7 wounded; 24 rank and file killed, 160 wounded; 3 missing - loss of 71st at Waterloo.

Officers killed and wounded:- Brevet-Major L'Estrange (Aide-de-Camp to General Pack), Lieutenant Elwes, Ensign Todd - killed; Lieutenant-Colonel Reynell, Major Jones, Captain Read, Captain Campbell, Captain Barallier, Lieutenant Lawe, Lieutenant ------- - ; - wounded.

June 19th 1815
We remained on our ground and received half allowance of rum. The whole face of the country was covered with the wreck of the French army. Three of our Regiment in search of plunder opened an ammunition wagon filled with cartridges. On finding it of so little value they let the iron-bound cover suddenly fall, by which a spark emitted and communicated to the powder, and blew the unfortunate men to atoms. Corporal Sims, who had served with us at the Cape of Good Hope, Corunna, and all the battles in the Peninsula, and escaped the dreadful slaughter of the day before, was shot by a drummer, who playfully presented a French firelock at him, which he picked up from the field of battle, not knowing it was loaded. On the field lay a wounded French officer, who applied to me to assist him. I requested of a few Belgian boors, who were stripping the dead, to carry him to a farmhouse in sight, to which they consented on my taking charge of their heap of spoil till their return. They placed him on two muskets, and four of them took him off. As soon as I saw them near the house I abandoned my charge, and in a second their heap of plunder disappeared.

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